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Israel Bidermanas’ London

June 6, 2023
by the gentle author


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Lithuanian-born Israel Bidermanas (1911-1980) first achieved recognition under the identity of Izis for his portraits of members of  the French resistance that he took while in hiding near Limoges at the time of the German invasion. Encouraged by Brassai, he pursued a career as a professional photographer in peacetime, fulfilling commissions for Paris Match and befriending Jacques Prévert and Marc Chagall. He and Prévert were inveterate urban wanderers and in 1952 they published ‘Charmes de Londres,’ delivering this vivid and poetic vision of the shabby old capital in the threadbare post-war years.

In the cemetery of St John, Wapping

Milk cart in Gordon Sq, Bloomsbury

At Club Row animal market, Spitalfields

The Nag’s Head, Kinnerton St, W1

In Pennyfields, Limehouse

Palace St, Westminster

Ties on sale in Ming St, Limehouse

Greengrocer, Kings Rd, Chelsea

Diver in the London Docks

Organ Grinder, Shaftesbury Ave, Piccadilly

Sphinx, Chiswick Park

Hampden Crescent, W2

Underhill Passage, Camden Town

Braithwaite Arches, Wheler St, Spitalfields

East India Dock Rd, Limehouse

Musical instrument seller, Petticoat Lane

Grosvenor Crescent Mews, Hyde Park Corner

Unloading in the London Docks

London Electricity Board Apprentices

On the waterfront at Greenwich

Tower Bridge

Photographs courtesy Bishopsgate Institute

You may also like to take a look at

Harold Burdekin’s London Nights

Roland Collins’ London

John Claridge’s East End

Marketa Luskacova’s Brick Lane

7 Responses leave one →
  1. Lizebeth permalink
    June 6, 2023

    Thank you so much for sharing theee evocative photographs with your readers.

    Looks like a hard life, but a joyous one. Do we celebrate joy these days?

  2. Cherub permalink
    June 6, 2023

    The first pic of the elderly couple on the carousel has really made me smile this morning, they just look so joyful. It’s as if all their cares have gone away for that moment. Really lovely.

  3. Mark permalink
    June 6, 2023

    These are so good.
    Vibrant slices of working class life.
    Brilliant photography.

  4. June 6, 2023

    It’s striking to see the impact of black and white photos — these images don’t need any color, which simply wouldn’t be suitable here either. Each of the photos is perfect in its own way.

    Love & Peace

  5. Mary permalink
    June 6, 2023

    I loved these images so much I have ordered a copy of the book on line. I have to agree with Cherub, the first image of the the couple on the galloper made me smile too. How wonderful to see London before the money and venality moved in.

  6. June 6, 2023

    A great set of images from all across London. Brilliant, thanks GA.

  7. John Campbell permalink
    June 6, 2023

    ‘Hampden Crescent W2’ must have been an inspiration for Roger Mayne in his ‘Photographs on Southam Street’ just a few years later.

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